Colwellia psychrerythraea

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Template:Biorealm genus


Higher order taxa

Bacteria; Proteobacteria; Gammaproteobacteria; Alteromonadales; Colwelliaceae; Colwellia


Colwellia psychrerythraea

Strain: 34H / ATCC BAA-681

NCBI: Taxonomy

Description and significance

Colwellia psychrerythraea is considered an obligate psychrophile and appears rod-shaped and red in pigment. This flagella-containing organism can be found in continually cold marine environments including Arctic and Antarctic sea ice. Strain 34H, in particular, was isolated from Arctic marine sediments. It has a growth temperature range of -1°C to 10°C. Optimal growth appears at 8°C, with maximum cell yield occurring at the subzero temperature of -1°C. Cells are able to swim in temperatures as low as -10°C. Growth can occur under deep sea pressures as well.

Sequence completion of this genome has revealed Colwellia's significant role in bioremediation, carbon and nutrient cycling, production of secondary metabolites, and cold-adapted enzymes. C. psychrerythraea is considered a model organism for the study of life in permanently cold environments, specifically bacterial adaptations. These adaptations include production of extracellular polymeric material for purposes of biofilm formation and cryoprotection, as well as enzymes with the ability to breakdown high-molecular-weight organic compounds. Particularly unique to this organism is the production of cold-active enzymes which show distinct heat instability and optimal activity occurring at low temperatures. These features make Colwellia species important in carbon and nutrient cycling in the cold marine environments in which they inhabit. From contaminated sediments to ice formations, observation of this organism can possibly give insight into earlier Earth environments as well as those on other planets and moons.

Genome structure

The complete genome of Colwellia psychrerythraea 34H has been sequenced and shown to be 5,373,180 nucleotides in length. The genome consists of one circular chromosome which codes for 117 structural RNAs and 4910 proteins. The circular DNA contains 38% guanine-cytosine base pairing.

Comparative genome analyses proposes that the psychrophilic behavior stems from a set of synergistic modifications in the overall genome content and amino acid composition, rather than a specific collection of genes responsible for such cold adaption.

Cell structure and metabolism

Describe any interesting features and/or cell structures; how it gains energy; what important molecules it produces.


Describe any interactions with other organisms (included eukaryotes), contributions to the environment, effect on environment, etc.


How does this organism cause disease? Human, animal, plant hosts? Virulence factors, as well as patient symptoms.

Application to Biotechnology

Does this organism produce any useful compounds or enzymes? What are they and how are they used?

Current Research

Enter summaries of the most recent research here--at least three required


Barbara A. Methé, Karen E. Nelson, Jody W. Deming, Bahram Momen, Eugene Melamud, Xijun Zhang, John Moult, Ramana Madupu, William C. Nelson, Robert J. Dodson, Lauren M. Brinkac, Sean C. Daugherty, Anthony S. Durkin, Robert T. DeBoy, James F. Kolonay, Steven A. Sullivan, Liwei Zhou, Tanja M. Davidsen, Martin Wu, Adrienne L. Huston, Matthew Lewis, Bruce Weaver, Janice F. Weidman, Hoda Khouri, Terry R. Utterback, Tamara V. Feldblyum, and Claire M. Fraser. "The psychrophilic lifestyle as revealed by the genome sequence of Colwellia psychrerythraea 34H through genomic and proteomic analyses." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 102: 10913-10918; published online before print as 10.1073/pnas.0504766102

Karen Junge, Hajo Eicken, and Jody W. Demin. "Motility of Colwellia psychrerythraea Strain 34H at Subzero Temperatures." Applied Environmental Microbiology. 2003 July; 69(7): 4282–4284. doi: 10.1128/AEM.69.7.4282-4284.2003.

Edited by Jaclyn Gaede; student of Rachel Larsen and Kit Pogliano